Nicholas made landfall Tuesday morning along the Texas coast as a Category 1 hurricane, threatening to pummel the state with fierce winds, heavy rain and possible flooding.
Residents along the coast from Port Aransas to Port O'Connor face a life-threatening storm surge of up to 5 feet as Nicholas bears down, according to the National Hurricane Center.
The storm came ashore near the eastern part of the Matagorda Peninsula, about 10 miles west-southwest of Sargent Beach, Texas, about 1:30 a.m. ET Tuesday, packing 75 mph winds.
Hours after landfall, it was downgraded to a tropical storm with winds of 70 mph.
The storm is expected to inundate the region with 6 to 12 inches of rain and isolated totals of 18 inches as it sweeps northeast across the Gulf Coast. Already, it has left about 360,000 customers without power in Texas, according to PowerOutage.US.
In Houston, high winds and heavy rain were expected and emergency officials asked residents not to remove or go around the roadblocks that are in place for safety.
The Houston area was devastated four years ago by Hurricane Harvey, a Category 4 storm that claimed the lives of 68 people -- the highest hurricane death toll in the state since 1919.
On Monday, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott signed an emergency declaration, warning residents to be prepared for Nicholas as a "substantial water event."
People should be prepared for "extreme high-water events, including flooding and potential damage caused by the rainfall," Abbott said, adding the system also could spawn tornadoes.
The storm is expected to move over southeastern Texas later Tuesday before making its way to southwestern Louisiana later Wednesday, when it is expected to weaken, the hurricane center said.
State prepares for heavy downpour
In Houston, city officials and first responders prepared for significant amounts of rain and wind.
"We are expecting anywhere between 4 to 7 inches of rain overnight as well as some wind, which could lead to some power outages," Mayor Sylvester Turner said.
More than 330 flights into or out of Houston's William P. Hobby and George Bush Intercontinental airports have already been canceled for Tuesday, according to the flight-tracking website FlightAware. All Port Houston terminals will be closed Tuesday morning, according to its official Twitter account.
Schools in the Houston Independent School District and Galveston Independent School District are closed Tuesday, officials announced Monday.
While the state prepared for the storm, Abbott had been in touch with officials along the Gulf Coast "to make sure that we're working collaboratively, to make sure that at the local level, we will be prepared for whatever the storm may bring," he said.
Texans should heed local advisories, said the governor, adding the state would make it through the storm as it had many others.
"It seems like every time we have heavy rain in the Houston area there are people who do drive into high water, and they sometimes lose their vehicles, and even worse, sometimes lose their lives. Your life is the most important thing that you have," Abbott said. "Be cautious as you travel about the Houston area in the Harris County area for the next few days."
Louisiana recovery efforts threatened
A state of emergency has also been declared in Louisiana, which is still recovering from the devastating impacts of Hurricane Ida's landfall two weeks ago.
"The most severe threat to Louisiana is in the Southwest portion of the state, where recovery from Hurricane Laura and the May flooding is ongoing," Gov. John Bel Edwards said. "In this area, heavy rain and flash flooding are possible. However, it is also likely that all of South Louisiana will see heavy rain this week, including areas recently affected by Hurricane Ida."
Ida's death toll in the state has increased to 28 as the East Baton Rouge Parish coroner confirmed two more storm-related deaths, according to a tweet Monday from the Louisiana Department of Health. A 69-year-old man and an 85-year-old woman died due to excessive heat during an extended power outage, the department said.
Continued electricity restoration efforts following Ida could be slowed and some of what has already been restored could be lost for a time due to Nicholas, Edwards said Monday.
As of early Tuesday, more than 97,000 customers in Louisiana remained without power, according to PowerOutage.US.
Ahead of Nicholas, the National Guard planned on Monday to stage 80 high water vehicles, 23 boats and 15 aircraft across southwest Louisiana and into central Louisiana and will remain ready to respond in southeast Louisiana as necessary, Edwards said.
™ & © 2021 Cable News Network, Inc., a WarnerMedia Company. All rights reserved.